Plegaria Muda is an installation made between 2008 and 2010 by Doris Salcedo. It is composed of 160 pairs of custom-made tables stacked on top of one another with dirt between them. The tables are modeled after the average size of a coffin. Grass grows from the dirt between the two tables through holes and cracks in the tables on top. The title roughly translates to "silent prayer."

Messiaen’s commentary for Quartet for the End of Time, VII. Fouillis d’arcs-en-ciel, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du temps (Tangle of rainbows, for the Angel who announces the end of time)

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“Recurring here are certain passages from the second movement. The angel appears in full force, especially the rainbow that covers him (the rainbow, a symbol of peace, wisdom, and all luminescent and sonorous vibration). – In my dreams, I hear and see ordered chords and melodies, known colors and shapes; then, after this transitional stage, I pass through the unreal and suffer, with ecstasy, a tournament; a roundabout co-penetration of superhuman sounds and colors. These swords of fire, this blue-orange lava, these sudden stars: there is the tangle, there are the rainbows!”

This is a heavy pairing to include in Advent. Salcedo meditates on the loss of life and Messiaen on the end of time. Even at the birth of Christ, it is impossible to deny thoughts of the second coming and the end of this world.

That will be the day of true peace. I am reminded by this pairing that all good soil is composed of mostly dead things. From the pain and suffering, the sacrifices made on nameless altar tables, a new life grows. The incarnation of Christ requires that Christ will die because death has not yet been defeated.

But we live between times. Like the dirt between the tables. The end of time has already occurred in a sense. It ended when Christ defeated death. For now, we wait as His peace takes root and grows.

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